Much as I wish to be able to say that I am my own best advocate, sometimes other people’s words would fly into my ears and get lodged in the corners of my heart. There are also times, when against my logic, I would lie awake and think of each of these words, trying to figure out why exactly they hurt so much.
You see, I married the love of my life exactly two months before I turned 34, and this alone was enough for some people to judge me “too old to start having children”. In the subsequent 5 years of our marriage, when it was clear as day that no child was on the way/on the floor/in our arms, I built a collection of bizarre comments, proof that people can be ruthless with their words.
Here are some of the comments I have collected so far:
- From a 53 year-old female colleague: “Those not blessed with children simply do not have the capacity to handle such big responsibility. You just have to realize that and count your blessing.”
- From a 40–something brother-in-law: “So, what’s the deal here? When are you having a child? I know; you’ll wait until your hair turns white, right?”
- From 73 year-old mother-in-law (who already has 9 grandchildren from husband’s 4 siblings), on the day I got my PhD: “Of course she can finish school. She does not have children.”
- From a 33 year-old female colleague to whom I regrettably confided that we might have male factor infertility: “So have you really accepted the fact that you’ll be childless forever? Why don’t you persuade your husband to get some treatments? Oh I know, you two are too old anyway, right?”
- (Same person as no.1): “Having children at your age is just so risky; you’d better stay childless unless you want children with severe ailments.”
- From a 60-something female ob-gyn whom I saw once for a regular check-up unrelated to infertility: “Are you sure you don’t want any children? I’ve known people who, in their old age, regret not pursuing fertility treatments.”
My husband, bless him, has the clear logic not to process these kinds of comments in his brain. I have been trying to follow his example, but I don’t always succeed. I am a naturally happy person and I certainly don’t carry the world’s burden on my shoulders. However, comments like the ones above sometimes creep too far into my brain and darken my world.
I know it is up to me whether or not to let others’ ruthless words to affect me. What I didn’t know was that it might take years before I can gracefully let rude comments slide. I also suspect people will comment without thinking 99% of the time, so I will be in a dark place 99% of the time too, unless I can truly make peace with our childlessness. Which, unfortunately, is not so easy in reality.
Therefore, as for now, whenever a rude comment is thrown my way and I can handle it without punching the offender in the mouth, I allow myself to celebrate. Celebrations have so far include buying myself new lipsticks, and um, nice clothes.
Please tell me that it in time the comments will disappear/ I will grow a nice thick protective hide/ things will be okay. Meanwhile, somebody just asked whether my marriage was still intact despite the years of childlessness; I think I ought to go and buy myself a nice new bag.
SparklingRain lives with her husband and several outdoor cats in Indonesia. She blogs at “As Fictional As the Truth.”
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